First of all, the tropical and warm locale sailing trip to Spirit Cay in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas provided many moments for birding. Because I was hoping to see some “unknown to me birds,” I made sure I had my camera, a Nikon D60, on this trip.
Make sure you have some way to take a photo to remember what birds you see when traveling to a tropical or special warm location. It can help to give a positive identification later and add to your collection of bird photos. Also, mark on a small map or take a phone photo of the map where you saw the bird.
Boat Pilings or Perches?
Where you stay when traveling can lead to some wonderful birding in a tropical or warm weather area. In my case, I was in Vero Beach at Loggerhead Marina, where a person could bird watch for hours. Because a marina is a great place to observe them, you can see birds galore there at different times of the day. They love to perch on the many pilings along the docks. They like to congregate on pilings, navigational markers, rocks and trees along shorelines, so keep an eye out scanning those should you be located near a river. (So where YOU stay, look for similar sites and structures where a bird could perch, or some water it may be standing near.)
Most of the time, you will see Cormorants or Brown Pelicans on them. Since Cormorants face into the wind and stretch their wet wings out to dry in the sun, basking, you should ample have time to photograph them. Should you lose your wind direction while sailing, just look in the direction their beaks are pointed!
Don’t Forget Birding at State and National Parks!
State and national parks along rivers and shores are another great place for you to bird watch in warm areas. In addition, the parks are a perfect spot to observe them in their habitats as they forage for food. Boca Chita Key in beautiful Biscayne National Park near Homestead, Florida was a great place to just wile away the hours.
Arriving there by boat, the tiny island was the perfect stopping point to see white Ibises, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and their many friends, in addition to finding fresh coconuts! Hard to believe, but the above photo of the two Woodpeckers was taken while I was sitting at a picnic table. The above scene unfolded while I was drinking coconut milk from a straw inserted into a coconut! Weekdays at such parks are less crowded than weekends and you are more apt to see more birds during the week with it quiet.
Birding Down at “The Club”
The apricot umbrellas of the prestigious Lyford Cay Club on Providence Island didn’t seem to mind the roosting of large Yellow-Crowned Night Herons nearby. The Club is on 1000 acres that are perfect for many species of birds to stay. Yellow-Crowns love to dine on crabs and crayfish. You will never forget these birds when you meet them, and they were discovered while on a casual walk to the beach. Their billowing yellow crest atop their heads adds to their amusing display. Most resorts you visit or stay have lush landscapes which draw in local birding species. So, keep that camera handy!
They Like a Tropical Swim in the Pool, Too!
Chub Cay was one of my favorite places. Many Hummingbirds were dining on the nectar of tropical flowers as it was expected to find birds in the trees and brush around the island. The craziest place though was at the pool. Water features situated on a resort will draw them there. These Ring-billed Gulls were having a grand time swimming in it in the beautiful Berry Islands under a tiki thatched hut poolside at Chub. They didn’t seem to mind having their picture taken at all. What a NICE birdbath they had, indeed!
Bringing Home Some of the “Exotic” from Your Birding Photos
Don’t discount the vast amount of birding that exotic locations can offer as you casually take in the scenery. Your photos of the birds you’ll find will not only preserve your memory of seeing THEM, but your trip as well! Make an enlargement of one of them and hang it on your wall to relive that tropical birding experience. Think of ways to bring your birding adventure back into your home to remember it by. You can then enjoy it everyday from your visit when back at home!
From the photos I took on the trip, I chose to do a painting for the couple whose boat I was on for this adventure. In it was captured the many exotic locales and activities of their journey on the way to Spirit Cay…and ALSO, my birding adventures in those same places! Can you find the Cormorant?